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June 26, 2001

Tom Watson


MARTY PARKES: Good morning, everyone, I'm Marty Parkes, I'm Senior Director of Communications for the USGA. And it is my pleasure to welcome Tom Watson here with us today. And, Tom, just to lead things off, I was looking, last year was your first Senior Open that you played in and you had a good outing. You were tied for 10th at Saucon Valley. So I was just wondering your impressions coming in here.

TOM WATSON: Well, I think I'm a little bit early here because I haven't played the golf course, so I can't tell you my impressions of this golf course. Which is probably the gist of the interview, it should be the gist of it, what I think of Salem Country Club. But I do know the history of it somewhat through my friend Ben Crenshaw who has told me quite a bit about it and Nick Seitz of GOLF DIGEST and I hear a lot of good things about the golf course. So first of all, I'm excited to play a Donald Ross golf course again. I played many of his golf courses and have always enjoyed the strategy that is required to play it. And play them. That is where I am right now. As far as what happened last year, 10th is, that's water under the bridge, that's gone. I'm looking at trying to make this two in a row as far as majors is concerned. I played pretty well at and won the PGA Seniors tournament over at Ridgewood. Then I played pretty dumb at the NFL Classic and I've had a couple weeks off and, frankly, I'm not in real good tournament shape because I'm still nursing a torn muscle in my right elbow and that requires complete rest. I hit balls for the first time on Sunday which was for the first time in a couple weeks. I hit long shots. I actually hit them pretty well. I've got a good mental image, but as far as good solid preparation, I'm not where I should be from the standpoint of being really prepared. So it's going to be kind of hit and miss for this tournament for me in the sense that I haven't been able to prepare because of my injury. But my swing feels good, putting feels pretty good. So I just have to take it as it comes.

MARTY PARKES: We would be happy to take questions.

Q. Obviously you want to do very well at every event that you play in, but can you talk about the difference in the mindset of playing a regular Tour week versus a major Tour week.

TOM WATSON: Well, my mindset's always been to prepare myself the best I can. But there's always maybe just a little bit of extra preparation for the U.S. Open. I always felt the U.S. Open, and as we look at this one, the U. S. Senior Open, are the most important tournaments we play in. That's our national championship, our national opens. And they mean more to me than any other tournament. So I prepare for them normally, without this injury, I prepare for them maybe just a little bit more vigorously.

Q. This is a two-parter.

TOM WATSON: Do you think golfers can remember two part questions?

Q. I'm older than you, I know they can.

TOM WATSON: Yeah, you got it written down there so you can refer to your notes.

Q. I can't read my writing any more. Considering that you had just won the Senior PGA, were you surprised that you didn't get an exemption to the Open?

TOM WATSON: No, I wasn't surprised at all. Because the U.S. Open is for current players. And my play this year has not been very current.

Q. And the second part would be, does this put some self-imposed pressure or desire as a means of insuring getting back to the Open next year?

TOM WATSON: Yes. There's not a question. I would love to play at Bethpage next year. And as far as I know this is the best way to do it. And it would be absolutely the best way to do it.

Q. If I could stay on the Open train, what did you do to pass that week because it was the first time you haven't been there in ages.

TOM WATSON: About threw up on the 18th, 72nd hole that's what I did. I've never seen a bigger tragedy in a golf tournament than that. 3-putting from 12 feet. I thought Jean van de Velde's was the biggest tragedy I had ever seen. But that had a flow to it. But 3-putting from 12 feet, I am really happy that Goosen won the playoff. Even though I feel for Mark Brooks, but on other hand, 3-putting from 12 feet is a nightmare in reality.

Q. On the positive side, the play of Hale and Tom made a pretty good statement for the over 50 crowd.

TOM WATSON: Yes. Not a question. You always expect Hale to do well in the U.S. Open because Hale is that, he's the composite U.S. Open player. He hits the ball beautifully with long clubs. Keeps it in play all the time. When he gets his putter going he can -- he's going to win. He's one of the top picks, obviously, this week. He always is. He, Larry Nelson, Tom Kite who shot 64. Yeah, the old guys can play, there's not a question they can play. But there are courses for horses and setups for a certain player and obviously Hale -- actually Hale can play any golf course, but the U.S. Open is really, they favor Hale.

Q. At Ridgewood Bruce Edwards just after you won was saying you really love playing courses like Ridgewood.

TOM WATSON: I'm a northern course type of guy. I like, I grew up on northern course type of conditions actually bluegrass fairways, bent greens. I haven't won on Bermuda grass very often. I've never won in Florida. I like the northern courses. I like the look of them.

Q. Just the whole feel of like standing on the tee at a Ross type course?

TOM WATSON: Yeah. As I said, I'm really excited about teeing it up on this golf course for the first time to play it. And I know it's going to be -- Bruce has already told me about the front side, he says it's pretty straightforward, but there's some holes that are going to require some strategy.

Q. He also mentioned that Byron Nelson told you when you were 40 you would hit the ball better than ever. Did he tell you that once?

TOM WATSON: Well, he said it wasn't so much at 40, but around the mid 40's I started really hitting the ball pretty well. And not only did Byron -- Byron didn't say it, but Jack Nicklaus said it. He said, you're going to hit the ball better than you ever have the older you get. You basically will fall into a pattern where your swing will repeat itself a lot better than when you were a kid, probably because of using your feel a little bit better. I made a slight adjustment in my setup that really adjusted my swing plane, which made me hit the ball better, and that was back in the early '90's. Ever since then I've hit the ball quite a bit better than I did in the late '80's.

Q. Tom, when did you injure the muscle near the elbow and did you have to, did that bother you at Ridgewood at all?

TOM WATSON: I injured it working out. It bothered me, I hurt it the Friday before The Masters. And I played through The Masters. Missed the cut at The Masters and the Worldcom at Hilton Head and it hurt a lot. The doctors said take three weeks off and don't do anything and take some Vioxin and anti-inflammatories and ice it. And that didn't seem to help. So I came back I said, well, the heck with it, I'm going to try to play through it. And I finally went and got an MRI done on it and it showed a tear in the muscle.

Q. Which arm?

TOM WATSON: Right arm. And it doesn't affect my golf swing too much. It affects it a little bit on the follow through right from right there to right there (Indicating). It's is just a little bit of pain right now. There was more pain before. The time off has helped it, but hitting the balls on Sunday it exacerbated it again. So I had to ice it and keep it going. The doctor that did the MRI said you got to take 8 to 10 weeks off and not do anything. And I said I can't do that in the middle of the summer. Cannot do that. He said, "Well, it is your arm." He suggested not to do anything. Go ahead and play, don't hit balls, but warm up, play. So right now I'm not prepared because of that. And that disappoints me, but other than not playing at all, I'm going to be playing. And he said if I hurt it, that's your own dam fault. Other.

MARTY PARKES: Other questions for Tom? Okay. Tom, thank you very much. Good luck this week.

TOM WATSON: Thank you. My pleasure.

End of FastScripts....

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